I'm a follower of your blog. I have been teaching First Grade at ABC Elementary for six years.
After reading many of your blog posts, I was wondering if you could shed some more insight. I really like your CC ELA Comprehension Sheets. After looking at those, it made me question my "Daily Cafe" block. I've had an internal struggle for the past year that it doesn't look "correct" in my classroom. We adopted Letterland [phonics program] this year, so one of my mini-lessons goes to that. My other mini-lesson is usually a reading strategy of sorts. I guess my biggest struggle is TIME! How do you get a good mini lesson in and get to more than 2 Daily 5 rotations!?
Before adopting Daily Cafe last year, I was used to having "Shared Reading" where I used the basal or another picture book and then we usually practiced with a comprehension activity (pencil/paper/whiteboard/
smartboard). Since the Daily 5 adoption, I've tried to incorporate some of those activities, but it feels like they are too lengthy and cut into the "rotation/small group" time.
I know I'm probably being repetitive, but I would appreciate any insight you can provide!!
Thanks so much!
At Lake Myra, we don't do The Daily 5 structure. Although the Common Core does not prescribe this structure or that to accomplish the teaching and learning of the standards, we do not feel that the structure of The Daily 5 best meets the needs of the students at our school, where our vision is, Preparing All Learners For Their Future. We do not do a pure Readers Workshop either, nor do we use a basal reading series. I would call our model a marriage of Guided Reading/Reading Workshop/Independent Literacy Centers. (See my earlier post on my definition of "Independent", what it is and what it isn't.) We do follow the CCSS pacing guides created by our county, which is "THE WHAT" students need to know, but at Lake Myra, we purposely collaborate, plan and craft "THE HOW" students will be taught it and hopefully, learn it. We select the appropriate text for the objective, either from books or magazines from our guided reading book room, our media center or the internet, we plan if they will do it for Guided Reading (with teacher support) and/or a literacy center (with peer support, without teacher support), we plan if they will read it in a small group, in a partnership or individually, we plan if it will be read it via book, paper, or digital device, and we plan some differentiated options for the product, project or result that best suits the teaching and learning of that objective or objectives.
When one observes my literacy block, which is 60 minutes with 24 3rd graders, of which they got a 15 minute reading mini-lesson with their teacher and a 15 minute word work mini-lesson from their teacher as well, and a 30-40 minute writing workshop block outside the reading block, too....the 60 minutes in my room are spent in 2 - 30 minute blocks...that's what works best for kids when you are trying to increase rigor, discussion, stamina of effort and perseverance and critical thinking...(it's very difficult to have a meaty text based discussion in under 15 minutes)...besides if students get 4 doses of a group at 15 minutes each per week that is the same as getting 2 doses of a group at 30 minutes each per week...why are letting the sun and moon determine what's best for students?
So, 6 students come to me for guided reading and the rest are in cooperative, speaking & listening based groups doing higher level literacy activities, like Shades of Meaning, Picture of the Day, Analogies of the Day, Fluency & Word Work Center or a Research Center. They build their independent reading stamina outside my time with them in a sort of DEAR time outside the literacy block, which helps build the love and joy of reading because there are no instructional strings, extrinsic rewards or expectations attached to this time...it is purely about THEM, the books THEY want to read, THEIR reading interests, developing THEIR reading identities and what THEM getting what THEY want to get out of reading. Sadly, too many students don't love reading and this time is an attempt to counteract or prevent that...if you are looking for a research base for this, it's called the affective domain of learning, one of the three domains labeled by Bloom in the 1950's...the cognitive, the affective and the psycho-motor. The teacher is not correcting papers or busy on her computer. The teacher is READING STUDENTS CLOSELY, learning more about them as readers, researching her/his students, learning all the intricate details about them in order to know them well.
As far as keeping the mini-lesson mini, that is KEY! Too many teachers, including myself are guilty of talking TOO long and teaching TOO much and turning a mini-lesson into a maxi-lesson...and 50 minutes later, you are still talking/teaching and they are wriggling around on the carpet in front of you and you can't figure out why. Teaching a literacy skill or strategy through a mini-lesson takes practice...both creating one and delivering one. They key is not teaching too much but showing students how that skill or strategy helps deepen their understanding of text when they are reading it independently...in 10 minutes. To do this, you will create your mini-lessons in the template I provided in this blog post. Then, you will get a timer! You will set it for 10 minutes and begin your mini-lesson, with it sitting on your lap if you have to. Stick to the time frames. This forces you to be concise and purposeful and stay on time and most of all, gives students enough time to work on it independently.
So then, for the most part, students are doing, creating, discussing, researching on their own (but never alone...together collaboratively with their group) and reading and writing with me at guided reading. I was recently observed by the IRT at a nearby school and after the hour was over, she said, "Wow, your literacy block is like the anti-sisters." She said, "At our school [a Daily 5 school], when students are doing Reading to Self, they are silent, when students are doing Reading with Someone, we also want them to do it quietly, when students are Listening to Reading, they are silent, when students are doing Word Work, we also want them to do it quietly, but nothing about what I heard or saw today was quiet. There was a buzz of learning, interacting, cooperating, agreeing and disagreeing, students were talking and exchanging ideas, sharing ideas and forming new ones through the literacy centers I saw and heard in here today."
I'm sure you could tweak what it is you are having your students do while you call it Listening to Reading. For example, students could watch a YouTube video that is complex, like Michael Jordan's Nike Failure commercial, (remember that videos are media which is informational text) but would also be required to analyze and evaluate it. They *could* do this by themselves, but it would be hard to agree and disagree with yourself. Now, I feel like I'm always thinking and asking myself, "How can I incorporate the Speaking and Listening strand into everything the students do?"...because as Jim Argent, principal at Lake Myra, has always said, "The person doing the talking, is the the person that's doing the learning." When students are Reading to Someone, they are speaking and listening with one another, but to what level of fidelity of they truly agreeing and disagreeing with each other. I feel like my Shades of Meaning Center accomplishes this. Are they reading continuous, connected text with a partner? No. Are they reading words and discussing different contextual meanings of words with a group of students? Yes. Are they practicing the skills of 21st century learning...communication, collaboration, creativity, critical thinking? Yes.
I guess the best way to answer your question is with a question. To what degree of practice, fidelity and accountability are the students in your Daily 5 stations practicing communication, collaboration, creativity and critical thinking? If the degree, fidelity and accountability level is something you can live with, then keep doing what you're doing. If it is not, then change something.
Anyway, I hope I've addressed some of your concerns and questions and that my response has helped you in some way. Thank you for reading my blog and I'm glad it's helpful, too.